Chow DSP offers Chow Centaur, a FREE digital emulation of the highly sought-after Klon Centaur overdrive pedal.
You can download Chow Centaur v1.3.0 for Windows, macOS, and iOS devices. It’s available in VST, AU, and LV2 formats and can function as a standalone application.
The original Klon Centaur Professional Overdrive pedal was first manufactured in 1994. Each unit was hand-built by Bill Finnegan, costing a little over $300 initially. The Klon Centaur was wildly popular and is now considered to be somewhat of a holy grail effects pedal.
Fairly recently, Bill Finnegan announced that he would be hand-building the unit once more, with the intent to produce and sell (via eBay) small batches semi-regularly. I’m not sure if those plans are still in place, but the last unit I found sold for around $4500. So, it’s fair to say the demand is still there.
One of the things that made the original Klon Centaur so popular was its unusual circuitry. For a start, it has a built-in voltage converter, which doubles the voltage from 9V to 18V. The increased voltage provides higher-order harmonic content and extra headroom. It also has a dual-ganged gain pot, causing an EQ shift that cuts some lower frequencies, and boosts the mid-range a touch.
The Chow Centaur plugin approaches the recreation in two modes; Traditional and Neural.
Traditional mode uses circuit modeling techniques like nodal analysis and wave digital filters. Neural mode uses a neural network to model the gain stage of the original circuit.
The main reason so many people love the Klon Centaur so much is for its transparent and natural-sounding overdrive. It overdrives your signal without coloring the tone in any noticeable way. If that’s what you’re after, then the Chow Centaur does a great job adding gain and warmth without altering the natural tone much at all.
The simple user interface pretty much mirrors the original pedal layout. You get three controls, gain, tone, and level, along with a mode selector and bypass button.
Overall, the Chow Centaur plugin ticks all the boxes in terms of delivering the essential qualities of the Klon hardware. Does it do it with the same mystique as the original hardware unit? Probably not, but if you pay thousands of dollars for hardware, it had better feel better than using a plugin.
For something that started as a class project, Chow Centaur is pretty awesome.
More info: Chow Centaur